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Building autonomous networks for the 5G era: a reference framework to deliver business outcomes

22 October 2020 | Research

Anil Rao Gorkem Yigit William Nagy

White paper | PDF (20 pages) | Automated Assurance| Service Design and Orchestration| Network Automation and Orchestration


"CSPs should implement ML/AI-driven hierarchical cross-domain automation architecture that collapses network siloes, simplifies the network domains and transforms the underlying network into a platform by abstracting the underlying complexity."

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Communications service providers (CSPs) are introducing network function virtualization (NFV), cloud-native computing (CNC) and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies into 5G networks, even as they continue to operate legacy physical networks. This mix of legacy and new networks increases the operational complexity that cannot be managed using traditional operational approaches. The legacy operational systems and processes were predominantly designed as siloed software solutions for various individual network domains and required significant manual effort and intervention. This approach is not economically and operationally viable for complex 5G networks and services. Autonomous networks will be critical to make legacy operations lean and to make 5G successful.

However, the journey to fully autonomous networks will be gradual; CSPs need to put strategies in place to carefully manage the transition. The TM Forum model for autonomous networks uses levels (0–5) to assess the maturity based on a set of conditions. According to the research conducted for this study, many CSPs are at level 2 (partially autonomous networks with limited autonomous capabilities), and some advanced CSPs are operating some network domains at level 3 (conditionally autonomous networks: intent-based automation based on real-time network changes).

Building autonomous networks for the 5G era: a reference framework to deliver business outcomes

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